24th Sunday after Pentecost. Tone seven.
Today is fast-free!
Mark 16:1-8 (2nd Matins Gospel)
Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away-for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples-and Peter-that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you. So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
And behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue. And he fell down at Jesus’ feet and begged Him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter about twelve years of age, and she was dying. But as He went, the multitudes thronged Him. Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped. And Jesus said, “Who touched Me?” When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ ” But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately. And He said to her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” While He was still speaking, someone came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house, saying to him, “Your daughter is dead. Do not trouble the Teacher.” But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.” When He came into the house, He permitted no one to go in except Peter, James, and John, and the father and mother of the girl. Now all wept and mourned for her; but He said, “Do not weep; she is not dead, but sleeping.” And they ridiculed Him, knowing that she was dead. But He put them all outside, took her by the hand and called, saying, “Little girl, arise.” Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately. And He commanded that she be given something to eat. And her parents were astonished, but He charged them to tell no one what had happened.
Saints and Feasts Celebrated Today
|Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “The Quick Hearer of Mt. Athos” (10th c.).
The Icon of the Mother of God, named “Quickly-Hearing” , an ancient wonderworking image, is located on Holy Mount Athos at the Dokhiareia monastery. The monastery tradition suggests that its time of writing belongs to the X Century, during the time of the monastery head Saint Neophytes (Comm. this same day). In the year 1664 the kitchener Nilos, coming at night to the kitchen with a burning torch, heard a voice from the image of the Mother of God raised up over the door, summoning him in future not to walk here and not to soot the icon. The monk thought that this was a prank of some one of the brethren; he disregarded the warning and continued to walk into the kitchen with the sooty torch. Suddenly he fell blind. With fervent repentance the Monk Nilos prayed before the icon of the Mother of God, begging forgiveness. And again he heard the wondrous voice, proclaiming forgiveness and return of sight and a command to announce to all the brethren: “From this time this My icon shalt be name Quickly-Hearing, since quickly to all hastening to it shalt appear mercy and fulfillment of entreaty”. The MostHoly Mother of God did then fulfill and now fulfills Her promise , quick help and consolation manifest for all who with faith hasten unto Her. In Russia copies of the wonderworking Athonite image “Quickly-Hearing” were always availed to with great love and veneration. Many of them were glorified by miracles. In particular, instances were noted of healing from the sickness of plague and demonic-possession. In the year 1938 the Athos Dokhiareia monastery presented to the Russian Spiritual Mission at Jerusalem a copy of the wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God “Quickly-Hearing”.
|Martyrs Onesiphorus and Porphyrius of Ephesus (284).
The Holy Martyrs Onesyphoros and Porphyrios suffered during the time of persecution against Christians by the emperor Diocletian (284-305). They beat them and burned them with fire. After this, they tied the saints to wild horses, which dragged them over the stones, after which the Martyrs Onesyphoros and Porphyrios died. Believers gathered the lacerated remains of the saints and reverently buried them.
|Venerable Matrona , abbess, of Constantinople (492).
The Nun Matrona was born in the city of Pergium Pamphylia (Asia Minor) in the V Century. They gave her in marriage to a well-off man named Dometian. When her daughter Theodotia was born, they resettled in Constantinople. The twenty-five year old Matrona loved to walk to the temple of God. She spent entire days there, ardently praying to the Lord and weeping for her sins. At the church the saint made the acquaintance of two pious women-elders, Eugenia and Susanna, who from the time of their youth asceticised there in work and prayer. Matrona began to imitate the God-pleasing life of an ascetic, humbling her flesh by abstinence and fasting, for which she had to endure criticism by her husband. Her soul yearned for a full renunciation of the world. After long hesitation Saint Matrona decided to leave her family and besought the Lord to reveal, whether her intent was pleasing to Him. The Lord heard the prayer of His servant. Once during a light sleep she had a dream that she had fled her husband, who was in pursuit of her. The saint concealed herself in a throng of monks approaching her, and her husband did not notice her. Matrona accepted this dream as a Divine directive to enter a men’s monastery, where her husband would not guess to look for her. She gave over her daughter for raising to the woman-elder Susanna, and having cut her own hair and disguised herself in men’s attire, she went to the monastery of the Monk Bassion (Comm. 10 October). There the Nun Matrona passed herself off as the eunuch Babylos and was accepted into the number of the brethren. Apprehensive lest the monks learn that she was a woman, the saint passed her time in constant quietude and much work. The brethren marveled at the great virtue of Babylos. One time the saint with the other monks was working in the monastery vineyard. The newly-made monk Barnabos noted that her ear-lobe was pierced and asked about it. “It is necessary, brother, to till the soil and not watch other people, which is not proper for a monk”, , answered the saint. After a certain while it was revealed in a dream to the Monk Bassion, the hegumen of the monastery, that the eunuch Babylos , was a woman. It was likewise revealed to Blessed Akakios, hegumen of the nearby Abrahamite monastery. The Monk Bassion summoned Saint Matrona and strictly demanded an answer, for what purpose she had infiltrated the monastery, whether to corrupt the monks or shame the monastery. With tears the saint told the hegumen about all her past life, about her pursuing husband, hostile to her efforts and prayers, and about the dream-vision, directing her to go to the men’s monastery. Becoming convinced that her intent was pure and chaste, the Monk Bassion sent off Saint Matrona to a women’s monastery in the city of Emesa. In this monastery the saint dwelt for many years, inspiring the sisters by her high monastic achievement. When the hegumeness died, by the unanimous wish of the nuns the Nun Matrona became head of the convent. The fame about her virtuous activities, and about a miraculous gift of healing, which she acquired from the Lord, spread far beyond the walls of the monastery. Dometian also heard about the deeds of the nun. When Saint Matrona learned that her husband was come to the monastery and wanted to see her, she secretly went off to Jerusalem, and then to Mount Sinai, and from there to Beirut, where she settled in an abandoned pagan temple. The local inhabitants learned of her reclusion, and began to come to her. The holy ascetic turned many from their pagan impiety and converted them to Christ. Women and girls began to settle by the dwelling of the nun and soon there emerged a new monastery. Having fulfilled the will of God, revealed to her in a dream, the saint left Beirut and journeyed to Constantinople where she learned, that her husband had died. With the blessing of her spiritual father, the Monk Bassion, the ascetic founded in Constantinople a women’s monastery, to which transferred also sisters from the Beirut convent founded by her. The Constantinople monastery of the Nun Matrona was known for its strict monastic rule and the virtuous life of its sisters. In extreme old age Saint Matrona was deigned a vision of the coelestial paradise and the place prepared for her there after 75 years of monastic work. At the age of one hundred, the Nun Matrona, having blessed the sisters, quietly expired to the Lord (about the year 492).
|Venerable Theoctiste of the isle of Lesbos (881).
The Nun Theoktista was born on the island of Lezbia (or Lesbos)in the city of Mithymna (Asia Minor). At an early age she was left a total orphan, and relatives gave her over for raising to a monastery. The girl was happy removed from the world of sin, and she liked the attraction of monastic life, the long Church services, the monastic obedience, the strict fasting and unceasing prayer. She learned by heart much of the singing, prayer and psalmody. In the year 846 when she was already 18 years old, with the blessing of the hegumeness, she set off on the feast of the Resurrection of Christ to a neighbouring village to visit her sister by birth and she remained there for overnight. Arabs invaded the settlement by night, and they took captive all the inhabitants, boarded them on a ship and by morning they were on the sea. The brigands took the captives to the desolate island of Paros so that, having examined them, they might assign a value to each in conveying them to the slave-market. The Lord helped the young maiden to flee, and the Arabs did not catch her. From that time the Nun Theoktista dwelt on the island for 35 years (+ 881). An old church in the name of the MostHoly Mother of God served as her dwelling, and her food , was sunflower seeds. All her time she spent in prayer. One time a group of hunters landed upon the island. One of them, pursuing his prey, went far off from the coast into the forest and suddenly he saw the church. He went into the church so as to offer up a prayer to the Lord. After the prayer the hunter saw in a dim corner, not far from the holy altar-table, through thick cob-webs a certain semblance of an human form. He went closer and heard a voice: “Stay there, fellow, and come no closer to shame me, since I am a naked woman”. The hunter gave the woman his outer clothing and she came out from concealment. He beheld a grey-haired woman with worn face, calling herself Theoktista. With a weak voice she told about her life fully devoted to God. Having finished her story, the saint entreated the hunter, that if only he happened to come upon this island again, that she should bring her a particle of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts. During all her time of living in the wilderness she not once was granted to commune the Holy Mysteries of Christ. A year later the hunter again arrived upon the island and brought a small vessel with a particle of the Holy Mysteries. Saint Theoktista met the Holy Gifts in the church, fell down to the ground and prayed long with tears. Having gotten up, she took the vessel and with reverence and in the fear of God she communed the Body and Blood of Christ. On the following day the hunter beheld within the church the dead body of the Nun Theoktista. Having dug a shallow grave, the hunter placed the venerable body of the nun in it and during this he impudently cut off her hand, so as to take with him part of the relics of the great saint of God. All night the ship sailed upon a tempestuous sea, and in the morning it found itself at the very place from which it began. The man then perceived in taking up the relic that this was not pleasing to God. He returned to the grave and placed the hand with the body of the saint. After this the ship sailed off unhindered. On the journey the hunter told his companions about everything that had happened on the island. Listening to him, they all decided immediately to return to Paros, so as to venerate together the relics of the great ascetic, but they could not find her holy body in the grave.
|Venerable Onesiphorus the Confessor of the Kiev Caves (1148).
The Monk Onisiphor of Pechersk pursued asceticism at the Kievo-Pechersk monastery. He was a presbyter and had the gift of perspicacity. He died in the year 1148 and was buried in the Nearer Caves alongside the Monk Spiridon. His memory is also 28 September and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
|Martyr Alexander of Thessalonica (305).
The Holy Martyr Alexander of Soluneia was arrested by pagans for confessing the Christian faith. Under the emperor Maximian (305-311) he not only openly called himself a Christian, but in answer to the demand to offer sacrifice to the gods, he overturned the idolatrous sacrifice in indignation. The emperor gave orders to behead the saint. When the execution was done, the emperor and the executioner saw how an Heavenly Angel came forth bearing up to the heavens the soul of the holy Martyr Alexander. The emperor permitted Christians to bury the body of the saint with honour in the city of Soluneia, which they did with joy.
|Martyr Anthony of Apamea (5th c.).
The Holy Martyr Anthony, a Syrian, lived during the V Century and was a stone-mason. With the blessing of the bishop of the Syrian city of Apameia, he began to construct a church in the Name of the Holy Trinity. Pagan townspeople, having learned of this, rushed by night into his house and murdered him with a sword.
|Venerable John the Short of Egypt (422).
The Monk John the Short-Statured (Kolobos) asceticised in the Egyptian wilderness in the V Century in the monastery of the Monk Pimen the Great (Comm. 27 August). From the name of this monastery, monastic wilderness monasteries began to be called “sketes”, in which monks pursued asceticism in strict solitude and silence. The Monk John was a gentle, humble and work-loving monk. It was to this monastery that the young John came with his brother Daniel. At first John asceticised without spiritual guidance, but the Lord brought him to his senses, in that strict ascetic deeds need to be done under the observation of an elder (starets) experienced in the spiritual life. One time the Monk John told his brother that he did not want to be concerned about clothing and food, and that he wished to live like the Angels. Having removed his clothing, he went out from the cell. At night it was very cold, and the scantily-clad John soon began to tap on the door of the cell. Daniel did not immediately remind his brother the saying that an Angel is not concerned about its body. The Monk John realised, that he relied too much on himself and bitterly he wept. After being brought to his senses the Monk John went to the Monk Pimen, known for his firm and steadfast will, and having asked guidance, he promised to be obedient in all things. Testing the patience of the young monk, Saint Pimen gave him an unusual obedience. For three years the Monk John carried water and poured it on a dried-up tree, and it became covered with leaves and gave abundant fruit, and was given the name “the tree of obedience”. The Monk John afterwards himself became a guide of many people on the way of salvation, among which were the Monk Arsenios the Great (Comm. 8 May) and Blessed Taisia (Comm. 10 May). Saint John was the author of the Life of the Monk Paisias the Great (Comm. 19 June).
|Venerables Eustolia (610) and Sosipatra (635) of Constantinople.
Saint Sosipatra, daughter of the emperor Maurice (582-602), being inclined towards monasticism, met the Nun Evstolia at Blakhernai, in the church in honour of the MostHoly Mother of God. After conversation with the saint, Sosipatra finally decided to leave the world and give her will over altogether to her guide, the Nun Evstolia. In the palace building, which the pious emperor bestowed upon his daughter, there gradually emerged a monastery, known for its strict monastic rule. Saint Evstolia died in the year 610, and Saint Sosipatra , in the year 625.
|St. Nectarius (Kephalas), metropolitan of Pentapolis (1920) ( Greek ).
“Saint Nectarius was born in Selyvria of Thrace on October 11, 1846. After putting himself through school in Constantinople with much hard labour, he became a monk on Chios in 1876, receiving the monastic name of Lazarus; because of his virtue, a year later he was ordained deacon, receiving the new name of Nectarius. Under the patronage of Patriarch Sophronius of Alexandria, Nectarius went to Athens to study in 1882; completing his theological studies in 1885, he went to Alexandria, where Patriarch Sophronius ordained him priest on March 23, 1886 in the Cathedral of Saint Sabbas, and in August of the same year, in the Church of Saint Nicholas in Cairo, made him Archimandrite. Archimandrite Nectarius showed much zeal both for preaching the word of God, and for the beauty of God’s house. He greatly beautified the Church of Saint Nicholas in Cairo, and years later, when Nectarius was in Athens, Saint Nicholas appeared to him in a dream, embracing him and telling him he was going to exalt him very high. “On January 15, 1889, in the same Church of Saint Nicholas, Nectarius was consecrated Metropolitan of Pentapolis in eastern Libya, which was under the jurisdiction of Alexandria. Although Nectarius’ swift ascent through the degrees of ecclesiastical office did not affect his modesty and childlike innocence, it aroused the envy of lesser men, who convinced the elderly Sophronius that Nectarius had it in his heart to become Patriarch. Since the people loved Nectarius, the Patriarch was troubled by the slanders. On May 3, 1890, Sophronius relieved Metropolitan Nectarius of his duties; in July of the same year, he commanded Nectarius to leave Egypt. “Without seeking to avenge or even to defend himself, the innocent Metropolitan left for Athens, where he found that accusations of immorality had arrived before him. Because his good name had been soiled, he was unable to find a position worthy of a bishop, and in February of 1891 accepted the position of provincial preacher in Euboia; then, in 1894, he was appointed dean of the Rizarios Ecclesiastical School in Athens. Through his eloquent sermons, his unwearying labours to educate fitting men for the priesthood, his generous almsdeeds despite his own poverty, and the holiness, meekness, and fatherly love that were manifest in him, he became a shining light and a spiritual guide to many. At the request of certain pious women, in 1904 he began the building of his convent of the Holy Trinity on the island of Aegina while yet dean of the Rizarios School; finding later that his presence there was needed, he took up his residence on Aegina in 1908, where he spent the last years of his life, devoting himself to the direction of his convent and to very intense prayer; he was sometimes seen lifted above the ground while rapt in prayer. He became the protector of all Aegina, through his prayers delivering the island from drought, healing the sick, and casting out demons. Here also he endured wicked slanders with singular patience, forgiving his false accusers and not seeking to avenge himself. Although he had already worked wonders in life, an innumerable multitude of miracles have been wrought after his repose in 1920 through his holy relics, which for many years remained incorrupt. There is hardly a malady that has not been cured through his prayers; but Saint Nectarius is especially renowned for his healings of cancer for sufferers in all parts of the world.” (Great Horologion)
|Venerable Simeon Metaphrastes of Constantinople (960).
He was born in Constantinople, and through his exceptional intellect and learning rose to the rank of Logothete (Imperial Counselor), serving under three successive Emperors. He was so successful in negotiating with the Arabs who had occupied Crete that the Emperor Basil II asked him to name his own reward. Symeon asked only that he be allowed to retire from public service and become a monk. The Emperor, though sad to lose such a valuable counselor, let him go, asking that he pray for his sins. In monastic life, Symeon continued to apply his gifts of learning: from scattered manuscripts and earlier anthologies, he assembled a collection of Lives of almost 150 Saints, a work which forms the basis of the Synaxaria in use today. He also compiled a Universal Chronicle and edited the treatises of several Fathers of the Church. Because of his skilled and diligent labors, he is called Metaphrastes, meaning ‘Translator’ or ‘editor’. He is the author of many beautiful prayers still in regular use today (one is found in the Prayers of Preparation for Communion). At his repose, a sweet-smelling and healing myrrh flowed from his body.
|Venerables Euthymius (990) and Neophytus, the Serbians of Mt. Athos (Greek).
The Monks Euphymios and Neophytes of Dokhiareia, an uncle and his nephew, belonged to the highest Byzantine aristocracy. The Monk Euphymios, while still in the world, merited honour to be the friend of the Monk Athanasias of Athos (Comm. 5 July), and he afterwards became a novice and disciple of the great ascetic. For his sincere love of the brethren, gentleness and his particular zeal in the ascetic life, Saint Athanasias granted the monk the duty of steward (dokhiar or economos), which the Monk Euphymios fulfilled as though entrusted on him by God Himself. Saint Euphymios settled with several of the monks in the locale of Daphnos, where he founded a monastery in the name of Saint Nicholas, and called by him Dokhiareia in memory of his obedience. Guiding his own younger brethren, the Monk Euphymios taught the necessity of attention towards self, to all the stirrings of the soul, explaining that the struggle of Christians , according to the Apostle Paul, is not “against flesh and blood, but against principalities, and against powers, and against the world-rulers of darkness of this age” (Eph. 6: 12). The peaceful ascetic life of the monks was disturbed by the Saracens. The monk led all the brethren into the forest. Returning, they found the monastery wrecked to its very foundations. The Monk Euphymios did not lose heart, and the monastery was rebuilt again. The Monk Neophytes in the world was a companion of the emperor Nicephoros Phocas (963-969). Upon the death of his parents he came to Athos, where he took vows in the monastery of his uncle the Monk Euphymios. Before his death, the Monk Euphymios transferred the running of the monastery to his nephew. Under the spiritual guidance of the Monk Neophytes the small monastery grew into a Laura. Having proposed to the emperor Nicephoros to become an endower (contributor) of the monastery, the Monk Neophytes enlarged the monastery to the present Dokhiareia dimensions. The Monk Neophytes was deigned to be chosen “proton” (heading the “protatum” , the council of elders of the Holy Mountain) and for many years he laboured there. After taking leave of the protatum in his declining years, the monk returned to the Dokhiareia monastery, where peacefully he expired to the Lord (X).
|Additional Saints and Feasts Celebrated Today|
|New Hieromartyrs Parthenius bishop of Ananiev, Constantine, Demetrius, Nestor, Theodore, Constantine, Victor, Elias priests, Joseph deacon and Hieromartyr Alexis (1937).|
|Martyrs Narses and Artemonos (Greek).|
|St. Helladius, monk (Greek).|
Troparion of the Sunday, Tone VII
By Thy Cross, Thou didst destroy death!
To the thief, Thou didst open Paradise!
For the myrrhbearers,
Thou didst change weeping into joy!
And Thou didst command Thy disciples, O Christ
to proclaim that Thou art risen,
granting the world great mercy!
Hymn to the Theotokos, Tone VII
Since you are the treasure of our resurrection,
we put our hope in you, O all-praised one. /
Lead us from the abyss of transgressions,
for you have saved those guilty of sin,
Mother of our salvation.
Kontakion of the Sunday, Tone VII
The dominion of death
can no longer hold men captive,
for Christ descended, shattering
and destroying its powers!
Hell is bound, while the prophets rejoice and cry: /”The Savior
has come to those in faith!
Enter, you faithful, into the Resurrection!
St. Nectarius, metropolitan of Pentapolis, Troparion, Tone I
O ye faithful, let us honor Nectarius,
the offspring of Silyvria, the
guardian of Aegina,
the true friend of the virtues, as a godly servant of
for he poureth forth all manner of, healings upon those who
piously cry aloud:
Glory to Christ Who hath glorified thee!
Him Who hath crowned thee!
Glory to Him Who through thee worketh healings
Kontakion, in Tone VIII, “To thee, the champion leader…”
In joy of heart let us hymn with songs the newly revealed star of Orthodoxy,
the newly erected bulwark of the Church;
for, glorified by the activity of the
he poureth forth the abundant grace of healings upon those who cry:
Rejoice, O father Nectarius!
Martyrs Onesiphorus & Porphyrius of Ephesus, Troparion, Tone IV
In their sufferings, O Lord,
Thy martyrs received imperishable crowns from
Thee our God;
for, possessed of Thy might,
they set at nought the tormentors
and crushed the feeble audacity of the demons.
By their supplications save
Thou our souls.
Venerable Mother Matrona, Abbess of Constantinople, Troparion, Tone VIII
In thee, O mother, that which was created according to the image of God was
For accepting thy cross thou didst follow after Christ,
praying thou didst learn to disdain the flesh,
for thou didst transcend it to
take care of thine immortal soul.
Wherefore, with the angels doth thy soul
rejoice, O venerable Matrona.
Kontakion to the Venerable Matrona, Tone II “Having received grace”
For the love of the Lord, O venerable Matrona,
thou didst ignore thy desire
illumining thy spirit with fasting;
by thy supplications cast down
the arrogance of the adversaries, for mightily didst thou vanquish the wild
Kontakion to the martyrs, Tone II “Seeking the highest”
Having suffered mightily,
the two martyrs cast the arrogance of the enemy
down to the ground,
being illumined by the grace of the uncreated Tfinity,
glorious Onesiphorus and Porphyrius.
Pray ye unceasingly in behalf of us all.
Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “The Quick Hearer of Mt. Athos”, Troparion,
Let us make haste to the Theotokos amid our misfortunes and fall down now
before her holy icon, crying out with faith from the depths of our soul: Hearken
quickly to our entreaty, O Virgin, in that thou art called she who is quick to
hear. For thee do we, thy servants, have as a ready helper in our needs.
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